By Leora Skolkin-Smith

Wreckage of Reason II: Back to the Drawing Board, edited by Nava Renek and Natalie Nuzzo and recently published by Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, is a collection of thirty-three experimental pieces written by women. It stands on its literary merits alone, but it also elicits questions that point far beyond its own physical presence in the publishing arena—questions primarily to do with the threatened future of experimental and literary writing itself, with the questionable health and well-being of our current literary culture and its openness or lack thereof to work that isn’t consumerist in intent. As if the standing of experimental writing in our literary culture weren’t enough of a problem, the troubling statistics testifying to the glaring inequality in attention given to women writers in comparison to their male counterparts present a serious crisis in writing, as both problems conflate to confront us with several critical questions we seem unable to table away: for instance, how does our current literary culture make room or recognize experimental writers, not as marginal guests at the buffet but as essential contributors? How do experimental literary writers continue to foster their literary legacy, to offer up profound depths, language, and soul, to grow as writers willing to risk and to toss up, around, and about meanings and connections in ways that rise above entertainment? In other words: to do this thing we still call “prose” and “story” as it evolved during the decades before it was oppressed by the omnipresent forces now censoring writing and writers?


Read the full review at Ready Steady Book:


Ready Steady Book

Come today to the Parataxe presentation at 8 pm
in “ausland,” Lychener Str. 60, 10437 Berlin.
Readings by MARIE-PASCALE HARDY (Canada/Berlin) and BRYGIDA HELBIG (Poland/Berlin), moderated by our very own Katy Derbyshire (UK/Berlin).
We’ll also be celebrating the release of the third issue of Berlin’s online literature magazine for writers writing outside the German language:

27 texts by 25 Berlin-based authors and translators in 10 languages ranging from Arabic and Mandarin to Yoruba – in the original and the majority in German translation.
It’s a unique achievement and an ambitious project, so come and enjoy!

PARATAXE – die internationalen Literaturszenen Berlins
stadtsprachen – Magazin der internationalen Literaturen Berlins
c/o Berliner Literarische Aktion e.V.
Kastanienallee 2
D – 10435 Berlin
Tel.: +49(0)30/53155963


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Wie viele Tage will be published by Literaturverlag Droschl, Graz, in February 2018.

Listen to the clip on youtube:


Quicktime photo


Ein paar Nachbarn trafen ein; einer der Männer aus dem Haus nebenan, wo zwei Stanleys und zwei Wandas wohnten und ein Polizist namens Jim, der an jedem 4. Juli zu Sonnenuntergang das opulenteste Geheimlager an Feuerwerkskörpern zum Vorschein brachte, das wir je gesehen hatten, wie ein zu groß geratenes Kind, das einen versteckten Vorrat Spielsachen hortet, und sie in die frühen Morgenstunden abschießt. Scheißkorrupt, sagtest du. Sie sind gesetzlich verpflichtet, das Zeug abzugeben, und was macht er? Typisch irischer Bulle – hat sie irgendwelchen Kids abgeknöpft. Einer der Stanleys kam auf mich zu, um mir sein Beileid auszusprechen, und ich spürte, wie mich eine Welle von Schwindel erfasste; er streckte die Hand aus, und obwohl ich zutiefst bewegt war, kam mir der Gedanke, dass ihn vielleicht bloß eine morbide Neugier motivierte. Ich zielte auf seine Wange und drückte stattdessen einen feuchten Kuss auf seinen Hals, ein Spasmus der motorischen Steuerung, die kurzfristig daneben gegangen ist; ich wich zurück und musterte diesen Mann, dessen langes strähniges Haar über den Schädel gekämmt war, um die kahle Stelle zu verdecken, der jeden Abend eingeschlafen und jeden Morgen erwacht war mit seinem unrasierten Kinn auf einem nur wenige Meter von meinem entfernten Kissen, der die gleiche Straße zur gleichen Bushaltestelle hinuntergegangen war wie ich, ohne mit einem von uns auch nur ein einziges Wort zu wechseln, einen einzigen Blick, Tag für Tag über Jahre hinweg.


Übersetzung: Barbara Jung

I’ll be reading from A LESSER DAY this evening at a place called ausland.

How much of our lives is contained in the places we’ve lived in? And does memory have a spatial dimension? As the narrator attempts to locate meaning in the passage of time as it inscribes itself into the myriad things around her, she discovers instances of illusion and self-deception—the flaws in human perception that reveal themselves when we examine the mechanisms of our own thinking: “The amnesia that follows, when the mind carefully buries its new discovery, only digging it up some time later when it’s certain of being alone, unobserved, turning it over and over, sniffing at it as though it were a dried-out bone.”

Together with Ben Miller and Charlotte Wührer.

Doors open at 7 p.m.

Lychenerstraße 60, 10437 Berlin

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Adapted from a talk given on April 28, 2017 at the New School, New York City, as part of The Body Artist: A Conference on Don DeLillo.

“Live outside your native culture long enough, and you begin to see it as a sort of double exposure in which your sense of family and identity and belonging is overlaid with a strange, shape-shifting disturbance pattern in which everything seems normal until it suddenly doesn’t, and you begin to see the country from a foreigner’s point of view. For as long as I can remember, America has enjoyed its superpower status, exporting the products of its creative industries around the globe, often through aggressive means, and showing little sustained interest in the cultures of other countries. Lawrence Venuti, the translation theorist, has spoken of ‘a trade imbalance with serious cultural ramifications’ resulting in ‘a complacency in Anglo-American relations with cultural others, a complacency that can be described—without too much exaggeration—as imperialistic abroad and xenophobic at home.’ Only a tiny percentage of all publications in the United States are works in translation, meaning that we have comparatively meager resources to examine our society and culture in comparison to other societies and cultures, and that this impedes our ability to reflect objectively on ourselves.”

Read the article in Quarterly Conversation here.



Featured on Three Quarks Daily

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Excerpt from my essay, (Re)Reading Don DeLillo in Dark Times:

“Are we more similar to animals than we care to admit, caught in vast murmurations and blind herds that obey some ancient code humming in our DNA? Or have we merely gotten used to believing our own stories? I mean not only to celebrate the work of one of our most influential, prescient, brooding, analytical minds but to comb it for clues, metaphors, a vocabulary and a language that can somehow explain us to ourselves. What can literary fiction achieve in a culture that has itself surrendered to fiction? That is more comfortable with make-believe than with doing the tedious work of trying to figure out why things are the way they are? Americans are addicted to fun—it’s what makes the U.S. so charismatic, and so good at popular culture, and enviable in so many ways, but it’s at the heart of a breakdown in discourse and a disassociation from reality that has us, literally, making things up as we go along. Americans want to be fired up, engaged emotionally—they want to get teary-eyed, earnestly confess, make solemn avowals. Does our literature help us to dig deeper, does it peel away the lies we tell ourselves, or does it perpetuate the problem through a self-celebration and nostalgia that reinforce the myths we’ve created about ourselves?”

Watch the full panel here:


The conference title, “The Body Artist,” refers not specifically to DeLillo’s 2001 novel, but to DeLillo himself, an artist who has spent a career dramatizing personal encounters with impersonal systems, the human body facing the inhuman machine. The event will feature panels and presentations predominantly by literary artists, fiction writers thinking about this fiction writer’s work—what it is, what it has meant, and what it means now.

— Scott Cheshire, “Don DeLillo’s Gods: A Taxonomy”
— Tyler Malone, “‘You Have Not Convinced Me’: David Markson, Don DeLillo, and the Narcissism of Minor Difference”
— Fred Gardaphe, “Masquerade Americana: Don DeLillo’s ‘Italianitá’ in a Minor Key”
— Andrea Scrima: “(Re)reading Don DeLillo in Dark Times”

The conference will consider not only DeLillo’s themes—paranoia, global terrorism, underground conspiracies, consumerism, digital technology, media, gender, and race—but also his craft, humor, language, style, spirituality and Catholicism, Italian-American identity, and his representations of New York, the city in which the conference will take place.

The New School |

Location: The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall
66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011
Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 9:00 am to 4:30 pm